AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Japanese teenager Tsubasa Kajitani overcame a double bogey on the 17th hole by closing with a superb par save, getting her into a playoff that she won on the first extra hole Saturday to capture the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
In a fitting conclusion to a final round filled with more blunders than birdies, she won with a par when Emilia Migliaccio’s delicate chip on the 18th hole in the playoff didn’t clear the sand.
Kajitani thought she had lost the tournament, just like so many other players on a chaotic back nine, when she took four shots from the front of the 17th green for a double bogey.
She wasn’t alone in her mistakes, however, and when she used the slope to perfection on the 18th hole for a pitch that grazed the edge of the cup, she had an even-par 72. Migliaccio closed with a 70 and already was in at 1-over 217, with no idea she would have more holes to play at the home of the Masters.
In the playoff on the 18th, Migliaccio was right of the bunker near the green, leaving her a delicate shot over sand to a fast green. She left it in the bunker, and Kajitani won with beautifully judged pace from the back of the green that left her 4 feet away for the winning par.
The 17-year-old was in tears when it was over, saying only to an interpreter, “I can’t describe it.”
This was nothing like the first edition of a tournament already elite in stature because of where it’s played. Two years ago, Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi staged a dynamic duel along the back nine, and Kupcho delivered a charge so familiar at Augusta National with an eagle and three birdies over the final six holes.
The final hour of the second edition featured a triple bogey that cost U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Rose Zhang, a double bogey for Olivia Mehaffey of Northern Ireland on No. 12, consecutive three-putts that stalled Ingrid Lindblad and bogeys on the final hole that kept the playoff from being even more crowded.
It was still compelling because it’s Augusta National, packed with more than eight decades of charges and collapses, usually without any warning.
Zhang suffered as much as anyone. The No. 1 player in the women’s amateur world ranking, the 17-year-old Californian was leading at 1 under when she hooked her tee shot on the par-5 13th. She found golf balls in Rae’s Creek, just none belonging to her, so it was back to the tee to hit her third shot.
Going for the green on her fourth shot, Zhang came up short and in the water and made triple bogey. She bounced back with a birdie on the 14th to regain a share of the lead, only to three-putt from the back edge of the 17th green.
Zhang had a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to join the playoff. She missed and closed with a 75.
Lindblad, who was tied with Zhang at 1 under to start the final round, didn’t make a birdie until the 13th hole. The Swede followed that with a poor chip on the 14th that led to bogey, a three-putt on the 15th for par and a three-putt for bogey on he 16th hole. Another birdie on the 17th left her one shot out of the playoff, but she missed the green on the final hole. She also closed with a 75.
They tied for third along with Rachel Heck (72), Emma Spitz (71) and Karen Fredgaard (73), all of whom made bogey on the 18th hole that ultimately cost them a chance in the playoff.
Pauline Roussin-Bouchard of France also finished one shot behind after a wild round of seven birdies and five bogeys.
Fredgaard, among nine players who had at least a share of the lead, reached 2 under with a birdie on the 13th. But she came up well short of the 14th from the fairway and made bogey, went for the green on the par-5 15th and came up short and into the water and then three-putted for a double bogey.
Only five players broke par in the final round at Augusta National, with Maja Stark having the low score at 69. She faced her own playoff at Champions Retreat on Thursday just to get the 30th and final spot of players to make the cut. Stark wound up in a tie for 10th.